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Member since: Fri Aug 1, 2008, 07:40 PM
Number of posts: 5,763

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Confirmed by science: our species is doomed.

Think the debate on Global Warming is going to be turned as more and more evidence comes in? Think again. It turns out that political passion cripples a person's ability to reason. And it has nothing to do with their intelligence.


Kahan conducted some ingenious experiments about the impact of political passion on people’s ability to think clearly. His conclusion, in Mooney’s words: partisanship “can even undermine our very basic reasoning skills…. [People] who are otherwise very good at math may totally flunk a problem that they would otherwise probably be able to solve, simply because giving the right answer goes against their political beliefs.”

In other words, say goodnight to the dream that education, journalism, scientific evidence, media literacy or reason can provide the tools and information that people need in order to make good decisions. It turns out that in the public realm, a lack of information isn’t the real problem. The hurdle is how our minds work, no matter how smart we think we are. We want to believe we’re rational, but reason turns out to be the ex post facto way we rationalize what our emotions already want to believe.

Now here's the worst finding of all: having skills and education, in fact, exacerbated this inability:

In Kahan’s experiment, some people were asked to interpret a table of numbers about whether a skin cream reduced rashes, and some people were asked to interpret a different table – containing the same numbers – about whether a law banning private citizens from carrying concealed handguns reduced crime. Kahan found that when the numbers in the table conflicted with people’s positions on gun control, they couldn’t do the math right, though they could when the subject was skin cream. The bleakest finding was that the more advanced that people’s math skills were, the more likely it was that their political views, whether liberal or conservative, made them less able to solve the math problem.

If this is really the case, and right now, real life is bearing it out, you might as well not even blame greed. Evolution has left our minds too flawed to deal with worldwide existential threat like Global Warming.

I now see works like Ayn Rand's as being a form of mental vandalism. They actually damage people's minds.

This is so depressing. I have to add, though, it doesn't surprise me after witnessing this nation's political trajectory since 1980.

The NSA fights dirty, who'd a thought?

Are you one of those radical lefties who believe in free love? Well, the NSA has a special weapon against you.


None of the six individuals targeted by the NSA is accused in the document of being involved in terror plots. The agency believes they all currently reside outside the United States. It identifies one of them, however, as a "U.S. person," which means he is either a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. A U.S. person is entitled to greater legal protections against NSA surveillance than foreigners are.

Stewart Baker, a one-time general counsel for the NSA and a top Homeland Security official in the Bush administration, said that the idea of using potentially embarrassing information to undermine targets is a sound one. "If people are engaged in trying to recruit folks to kill Americans and we can discredit them, we ought to," said Baker. "On the whole, it's fairer and maybe more humane" than bombing a target, he said, describing the tactic as "dropping the truth on them."

Or how about bringing Occupy radicals or NSA hostile politicians under control? J. Edgar Hoover did this, and had the elected government in his palm by doing it.

Is stopping terrorism (and drugs) worth the measures we're taking? Police kill eight times as many people per year terrorists do. Since 2001, they're killed more people than the number of US deaths in Iraq.

Also, I can't forget the irony that mischief by the US intelligence community is what brought terrorists on us to begin with. If it weren't for the CIA and NSA and such, we wouldn't need the CIA and NSA. They perpetuate their own existence to protect us from the wrath from what they did yesterday.

I still don't think this will end before October 17.

Call me pessimistic, but I doubt the people who did this (Tea Partiers, the Kochs, the GOP) can get themselves together enough to stop this. Yes, their popularity will plunge, but that only means that they'll try to hold on more dearly to the one "bargaining chip" or advantage they have. That is, the fact that they can make or break the world economy. To anybody who's desperate, that's going to seem like a lot of power, and once they give it up, they'll have nothing. They'll have no prospects for staying in office, and the conservative ideology will be as out of fashion as the Hitler mustache.

They're going to try to get something out of this, anything to make it less than the total defeat it has to be. And, yes, I believe they'll take the world economy down trying to do it. It's not like even the Koch Brothers can afford to lose this.

I'm afraid this is going to be the 21st century's version of World War I, where everybody's trapped in their own bad decisions.

FISA Court has been secretly expanding surveillance


A few things about the FISA court that I didn't realize. First, the Judges are all chosen by SCOTUS Chief Justice John Roberts. All of them except one are Republicans.

Second, there's no confirmation, no oversight of these guys.

Third they're making Supreme Court-size decisions in secret, affecting all of us, that can't be appealed.

Fourth, often these decisions are not contested, it's unclear whether the people they concerned are even given the chance.

This goes against every principle of justice.

Why does my personal NSA agent keep screwing up?


To My Personal NSA agent,

I hate to keep complaining, but you've made another mistake.

I made reservations for a trip to a Convention in September, but I made them for the wrong day. So, I had to change the reservations, it cost me $20 and a trip to Greyhound to correct it.

How could you possibly let me do that?

This is just your latest cock up. Your mind has really been wandering recently. I admit I don't have the most exciting life, and you probably sleep through most of it, but you must have some alarm that tells you when I'm about to make a misstep. So what's wrong with you? You have that metadata stuff, and those metastatistics. You have my profile. You have enough to create a Sim of me and run Chuck Sim through my whole day before I live it. Probably dozens of times. So you ought to be able to correct my mistakes before I make them. I mean, why do I pay taxes?

You made another error earlier in the day. People on Facebook wished me a happy birthday all day yesterday. I was very thankful to all of the well-wishes, but who told Facebook it was my birthday? It wasn't me; it had to have been you. I bet you thought I'd appreciate it. Look, when I call and make doctor's appointment or correct one of your errors on my bankcard, they always ask me for my birthday. That's important personal information, and you just took liberties with it. One thing I was never going to talk about in my blog was my birthday. I felt so smart hiding it.

Then you overcompensate. When I put up a post thanking you for blabbing it to Mark Zuckerberg, my post comes right down. Was that necessary? I know it wasn't in good taste, on the big Z's own website. I was a little sarcastic with you and the Z, but why should the whole post come down? I thought if I went overboard, you'd just redact parts of it the way you intelligence people always do.

We just need a few adjustments, and I know I can get comfortable with you spying on me. I tend to look at the bright side, if you're going to record all my emails and phone conversations on the impossible chance that I'll become a terrorist, the least you could do is keep me from screwing up my life any further.

It's in your interest too. If the public gets the idea you're spying, they're just more and more uncomfortable with it until they can't take it any longer. Maybe you think you've built up the police forces enough to keep this from breaking out into violence. I won't argue against that, now that agencies as remote to law enforcement as the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources have their own air reconnaissance and military grade armaments. Your bosses are certainly thorough. Nevertheless, it'd be far easier and cheaper if you emphasize the consumer service side part of your work. That way, people won't see it as an intrusion or, as some enemies have suggested, a total violation of the 4th Amendment. They need a vision of how your program can improve their lives. Make them think of you as guardian angels, not Big Brother.

However, if they need some riots and raids to fill those privatized prisons for slave labor, who am I to argue? You must fulfill your contracts.

So, pass that on to your superiors, and get on the ball. I really need my NSA agent to get my life right. So does every American in my socio-economic class, if they would only think about it correctly.

Give my best wishes to the rest of the office,


Why are you talking like that's easy?

Everything that makes a password strong is what makes it difficult or impossible to remember, and if you're over 50-60 years old, and you have accounts on eighty different sites, you're going to have to come up with a system or have weak passwords and/or nine or ten passwords for the whole group.

Maybe computer geeks find memorizing random symbols an easy thing, if so, that's only because they spend what is or becomes their "work hours" at it. People who have other professions are using computer devices because those purportedly make things easier. If those professional people are supposed to memorize page after page of random keyboard symbols, they wouldn't be using computers very much and a lot of computer geeks would be out of their jobs.

Maybe you trained yourself for those memory feats in high school or college, but the rest of us don't have time doing anything like it. You'd better hope you never get a concussion or have electro-convulsive therapy, because that ability is very actually fragile.

My opinion is if passwords are that much of a hassle, computer geeks better stop being arrogant SOB's about it and start trying to make it easier.

I have a system for managing passwords. It's not conventional, but they're all strong, and I don't have them memorized.

And I'll just add: websites and companies should practice due diligence about this, too. For one thing, I don't know why anybody should get away with brute force password cracking. If websites would limit the number of times per minute log ins can be attempted to something closer to the speed a human being could type it, that would neutralize brute force attacks. I know it presents its own attack issue (you can close a user out of an account by sending attempts), so it's not that simple, but I'm sure there are solutions. They should be thinking along those lines.

If there were any doubt

. . . it's now confirmed that the US was behind this crap.

I remember just last Friday President Obama stating how Snowden was so yesterday, that he had too many important things to attend to be concerned about an issue plain-old law enforcement could take care of. Yes, law enforcement, like the US State Department, at the ambassador level.

As good as our government was at kicking itself in the nuts, I really wonder who planted the disinformation that Snowden was on the Bolivian president's jet? We will probably never find out, but I know Putin is probably laughing hardest.

It's probably one the the best practical jokes in the history of international intrigue. I don't think it's going to be the last one on us before this is over. The rest of the world is going to have a knee-slapping time making the great empire look like a bunch of buffoons over this.

And the US now deserves no less.

Oh, Tony, I love it when you talk dirty!

"Homosexual sodomy" hehehe Now tell me about the flouradation of our drinking water!

I want to congratulate all LGBT people on this great victory today. I'll join you in celebrating June 26th every year as a great day in history.

I won't make any posts on more negative subjects today. Nothing to distract from your joy.

NSA spy program: a social/economic catastrophe

From Daily Kos: other countries are not going to stand for this surveillance and are going to divert their Internet resources away from the US.


The world is looking at an international crisis -- as a result of Edward Snowden's description of an illegal data theft "Process" -- perpetrated against their own citizens. The US is engaged in ongoing criminal activity against their sovereignty. And they are scrambling to put a stop to it.

The United States can no longer be trusted, never, ever again.

This is a watershed moment that changes everything. You are witnessing an epic geopolitical shift that will profoundly effect the United States standing throughout the world. It will certainly affect your future.

Before this is over, the entire architecture of the Internet will be rebuilt. Here's why:

A huge proportion of all global Internet traffic flows through networks controlled by the United States. This is because eight of fifteen global tier 1 telecommunications companies are American owned -- companies like AT&T, CenturyLink, and Verizon. Furthermore, the social media services are also mostly provided by giants headquartered in the United States, including Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, and Twitter.

All of these companies are subject to U.S. law, including the provisions of the U.S. Patriot Act, no matter where their services are offered or their servers located.

Having the world's Internet traffic routed through the U.S. and having those telecommunications companies under its jurisdiction compromises the constitutionally guaranteed privacy rights of citizens of all other sovereign nations.

This will end.

The rest of the world will not stand for it.

It's a simple fact and an economic black swan for the US.

So far as I can tell, none of this is being reported in the press. It makes sense, however, that other countries would be extremely pissed about this. They seem to agree on two things: one is, they're not going to allow their Internet backbones to be controlled by the US. The second is, they're going to do their best to screw us.

And, no, the US can't stand alone if the whole world is against it. The loss of commerce in coming years is going to be incredibly damaging. This may truly be the end of our government system.

We should have never allowed agencies like the NSA to continue to exist after the Cold War. That was our first mistake. The second was ever allowing George W. Bush to become a candidate much less get into the White House.

And when the dust settles, history is going to be rough on President Obama.

NSA admits to listening without warrants.

Headline on Cnet:

NSA admits listening to U.S. phone calls without warrants

National Security Agency discloses in secret Capitol Hill briefing that thousands of analysts can listen to domestic phone calls. That authorization appears to extend to e-mail and text messages too.

The National Security Agency has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed this week that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed "simply based on an analyst deciding that."

If the NSA wants "to listen to the phone," an analyst's decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required, Nadler said he learned. "I was rather startled," said Nadler, an attorney and congressman who serves on the House Judiciary committee.

Not only does this disclosure shed more light on how the NSA's formidable eavesdropping apparatus works domestically it also suggests the Justice Department has secretly interpreted federal surveillance law to permit thousands of low-ranking analysts to eavesdrop on phone calls.

Because the same legal standards that apply to phone calls also apply to e-mail messages, text messages, and instant messages, Nadler's disclosure indicates the NSA analysts could also access the contents of Internet communications without going before a court and seeking approval.

The disclosure appears to confirm some of the allegations made by Edward Snowden, a former NSA infrastructure analyst who leaked classified documents to the Guardian. Snowden said in a video interview that, while not all NSA analysts had this ability, he could from Hawaii "wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president."


Hmm. Warrantless surveillance. Any apologies to Greenwald or Snowden, yet?

BTW, the article did include this:

AT&T and other telecommunications companies that allow the NSA to tap into their fiber links receive absolute immunity from civil liability or criminal prosecution, thanks to a law that Congress enacted in 2008 and renewed in 2012. It's a series of amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, also known as the FISA Amendments Act.

In case you forgot the surprise the day the Senate approved that law, then Senator Obama voted for it, leaving his supporters at the time stunned. I know I was. But we all forgave him. Most have probably even forgiven and forgotten. But I didn't forget.

I think that was his signal to the telecoms and the intel agencies that he was on their side. I can't think of anything else that could have been.
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